MAHMUD Mohammed, chief justice of the federation, CJN, has described the mode of arrest of seven judges as “deeply regrettable.” The affected judges were arrested between Friday night and early Saturday morning.
Speaking at a valedictory session for Justice Suleiman Galadima of the Supreme Court in Abuja, on Monday, October 10, Mohammed urged Nigerians to pray for the country. “It is indeed very saddening and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday 7 October and Saturday 8 October, 2016,” he said.
The CJN hinted that an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council, NJC, “which will take place tomorrow, will comprehensively look into the matter.”
“Furthermore, I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association ably led by the President, Abubakar Mahmoud and indeed all members of the legal profession for their prompt action and continued support,” he said.
Arrested by the Department State Security, DSS, are John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta, justices of the Supreme Court; Namdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola of the federal high court, Abuja; Kabiru Auta, from Kano; Muazu Pindiga in Gombe, and Innocent Umezulike. a former chief judge of Enugu State.
According to the DSS, more arrests would be made in due course. A source hinted that as many as eight judges may be involved in the new arrest. Apart from the judges, at least three members of the registry staff of relevant courts have also been invited for questioning by the DSS and have made “relevant statements,” the source said.
On Saturday, the DSS gave reasons for the arrest of the judges. In a statement by the service, various sums of money were recovered from the arrested judges including over N93 million in cash as well as over $530,000 in cash.
The mode of arrest of the seven judges has led to intense criticism from Nigerians including by the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, which asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the release of the judges.
— Oct 10, 2016 @ 19:25 GMT